The Upshot

Scott Brown slams Griffin’s joke about his daughters

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

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GOP Sen. Scott Brown is blasting comedian Kathy Griffin after she jokingly referred to his daughters as “prostitutes” on her new Bravo reality show.

The segment, which aired Tuesday, featured CNN’s Dana Bash and John King quizzing Griffin on her political knowledge during a recent visit to Washington. When King held up a photo of Brown, Griffin identified him as “Scott Brown, who is a senator from Massachusetts and has two daughters that are prostitutes.” Within seconds, a "brief message from Bravo's legal team" scrolls up the screen: "Scott Brown's daughters ARE NOT prostitutes!!!" You can watch below, courtesy of WBZ-TV in Boston (the quip itself appears at roughly 0:30):

On Thursday, Brown trashed Griffin and Bravo for the low blow. “People can call me any name they want, but families are off limits,” the senator said in a statement quoted by Politico. “I love my daughters, Ayla and Arianna, very much, and any parent would be proud to have them as children. Kathy Griffin and Bravo ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

It should be noted that Brown’s daughters are indeed professionally accomplished, and employed in completely legal fashion. Arianna, 19, is a pre-med student at Syracuse University and part-time model. Ayla, 21, is a singer who appeared on "American Idol" and is a special correspondent for "The Early Show" on CBS.

[Photos: See a slideshow of Ayla Brown]

Back in January, the young women experienced a bit of national fame inflicted by Dad himself when Brown kidded during his giddy victory speech that his daughters were single and "available."

While families probably should be off-limits, it’s hardly the first time a politician has defended kids against insults and cheap shots.

President Truman set a standard for fiery defense in 1950, when the Washington Post panned daughter Margaret's singing performance. Truman fired off a letter to the "frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful," promising that if Truman ever met him, "you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below."

The Truman Library says a copy of that letter hung in the office of President Bill Clinton — whose own daughter, Chelsea, spent her awkward teen years in the White House being mocked by, among others, John McCain and "Saturday Night Live." And in 2008, at the height of the presidential campaign, then-MSNBC anchor David Shuster got into trouble when he suggested that Chelsea Clinton was being “pimped out” by her mother’s campaign.

The Bushes tried to shield their daughters, Jenna and Barbara, from the spotlight during their years in the White House. But the twins were lampooned as drunken party animals on "SNL" after they ran afoul of the law for underage drinking. Then-First Lady Laura Bush, especially, was protective of her daughters, trashing the media for invading their privacy. "They just want to do like every other teenager does," Laura Bush told reporters.

Last year, Sarah Palin went to war with David Letterman after he jokingly suggested that her daughter Bristol had been knocked up by Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez after the family attended one of the team’s games. It was actually Palin’s then-14-year-old daughter, Willow, at the game, which made the joke even worse. Letterman eventually apologized.

More recently, Fox News host Glenn Beck apologized after he mocked then-11-year-old Malia Obama. President Obama had cited his daughter during a news conference on the BP oil spill, telling reporters she had asked him about when he was going to stop the oil leak. Beck mocked Malia, describing her question as “stupid.” He later backtracked, saying the children of public figures “should be left on the sidelines.” “It was a stupid mistake and I apologize — and as a dad I should have known better,” he said.

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